At least 200 people have been killed in the building of Reigners Bible Church that collapsed in Uyo, Akwa Ibom state, on Saturday.
The confirmation was given by Etete Peters, a professor and chief medical director of the University of Uyo Teaching Hospital, where the victims were rushed to.
“We only lost one person in the hospital except those that were brought dead. In circumstances like this, we have been overwhelmed. We need help from government,” Peters told Punch Newspaper.
“Many victims are in private hospitals and mortuaries scattered all over Uyo metropolis; we can’t really tell how many people have died so far. We have over 200 persons in the mortuaries. We do not have space, as people are still being brought in.
“We have done our best to revive some victims. Right now, we have over 50 cases we are attending to. This is the first time we are witnessing such an incident.”
Uduak Effiong, a survivor, gave estimated the death toll at 300, saying 100 of those bodies were close to her.
“I saw over 100 dead bodies. These were the ones close to me,” the victim said.
“From my estimation, more than 300 people might have died as people came from other churches in all parts of the state, including government-sponsored praised singers with uniforms to attend the programme. For some of us that escaped, we only did by the special grace of God.”
Effiong, a Communication Arts student of Uyo university, added that she lost three of her colleagues to the incident.
Udom Emmanuel, governor of the state, could have been a victim himself had he arrived the church early enough, said the government would bear the cost of treating the victims and promised to setup a panel to ascertain the cause of the mishap.
“I was present at the church during the incident and shared in the agony of the moment. Thereafter, I personally supervised rescue operations and evacuation of the injured to the hospital,” he said.
“I directed all emergency organisations, agencies of government and corporate organisations especially the construction companies to be involved in the exercise. They acted promptly and I commend their sense of patriotism and gallantry.
“The State Government will bear the medical cost of all those injured. We note that we have never had such a shocking incident in the history of our dear state.
“Government will, therefore, set up a high-powered panel of inquiry to ascertain the immediate and remote causes leading to the collapse of the building with a view to forestalling the recurrence of such incident and bring to book persons found to have compromised professional standards in the construction of the building.
“We appeal to all citizens to remain calm, pray for the injured and avoid undue speculation as the situation is being given the best possible attention.”